I love, love harissa, a spicy condiment made out of chile peppers. I've never made it at home, but it gave this stew it's spicy and smoky flavors. Thanks to the assistance of my new best friend in the kitchen, the slow cooker, the flavors developed over the course of several hours.
If you need something to cool the heat of the stew, make a Greek yogurt-based condiment to top it with - a raita or tzatziki kind of sauce. Today, I just opted for the fresh herbs. As with anything that cooks for a very long time, you need to do something to brighten up the dish and make the flavors pop. Plus, you can eat the leftover sauce and harissa with cut veggies or pita bread.
Lamb Stew with Harissa
- 4 dried ancho chile peppers
- pinch of cayenne
- 1 tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 T. paprika
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 3-4 T. olive oil, plus more to brown the lamb
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 1/4 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 lb. lamb shoulder, cut into chunks
- 2-3 c. beef stock
- splash red wine
- jasmine rice for serving
- handful of cilantro and mint, chopped for garnish
Put the anchos in a pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a simmer, cover, and let them steam for 8-10 minutes, or until they are soft. While they reconstitute, heat a dry saute pan. Add the cumin and coriander and let them toast for 2-3 minutes or until they become fragrant. Grind the spices in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
Remove the stems from the peppers and put them in a blender. Pour in about 1/2 c. of the cooking liquid and add the cayenne, coriander, cumin, paprika, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. Puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If the consistency is too thick for your liking, add in more oil or cooking liquid.
Pour 1/2 of the harissa over the lamb. Let it marinate for an hour at room temperature.
Toss all of the vegetables into your slow cooker.
Heat 1 T. of oil to a pan. Remove the lamb from the marinade. Sear the lamb on each side for 1-2 minutes to establish a nice caramelized crust. Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker. Deglaze the saute pan with the wine, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon. Pour the juice into the slow cooker. Add in the stock, season with salt and pepper, and let it cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Prepare the jasmine rice and plate it, topping with a few ladles of the stew. Finish with the fresh herbs.